Ilya Bryzgalov has been showing the Anaheim Ducks may have made a mistake by getting rid of him. Now he has a chance to do it in person.
Bryzgalov looks to win for the third time in as many starts with the Phoenix Coyotes as he returns to Anaheim on Friday for the first time since the Ducks released him.
The 27-year-old goaltender, a second-round pick by the Ducks in 2000, won 26 of the 58 games he started for Anaheim and went 6-4 with a 1.46 goals-against average during the 2006 playoffs. However, he returned to being Jean-Sebastien Giguere's backup last season as the Ducks won their first Stanley Cup, and the team decided it was time to cut ties with Bryzgalov last Friday by putting him on waivers.
The following day, with Phoenix (9-10-0) having just lost three straight to San Jose while getting outscored 15-1, Bryzgalov was claimed by the Coyotes. That night, he stopped 28 shots in Phoenix's 1-0 win over Los Angeles to end the skid.
Bryzgalov was almost as good in the Coyotes' 4-1 home win over the Kings on Wednesday, making 29 saves.
"He has been phenomenal," Phoenix captain Shane Doan said. "One goal in two games and that's huge. When we needed him to make a big save, he has come up big for us."
Bryzgalov made his last start for the Ducks against Phoenix on Nov. 7 in Anaheim, where he was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals in the Coyotes' 6-5 overtime win.
Considering Bryzgalov was just 2-3-1 with a 2.55 GAA for the Ducks, maybe he just needed a change of scenery.
"I feel very comfortable with this team," Bryzgalov said. "These guys work hard in practice and hard in a game. Anaheim is in the past, and I'm glad the Coyotes picked me up. This is a great team and with a great future."
On Wednesday, Mike York had two goals and Ed Jovanovski added three assists for the Coyotes, who doubled their goal output from their previous four games.
The Coyotes, who finished with a Western Conference-worst 67 points in 2006-07, are 2-1-0 against the Ducks this season and look to win their third straight at Anaheim after losing 10 in a row there. Phoenix is 6-3-0 on the road.
Peter Mueller had a hat trick as Phoenix matched a season high for goals in its last game against the Ducks on Nov. 7.
Anaheim (10-9-3), in third place and five points ahead of the fourth-place Coyotes in the Pacific Division, had its four-game winning streak snapped with a 2-1 loss at Dallas on Thursday.
Corey Perry scored on the power play in the first period for the Ducks, who scored only one goal for the second straight game after totaling 18 in their previous four contests.
"I thought we played 60 great minutes," Anaheim defenseman Mathieu Schneider said. "I thought we deserved better."
Perry leads the team with 12 goals, including three in his last two games against Phoenix.
Giguere goes into a matchup against his former backup after having his four-game winning streak snapped Wednesday despite making 22 saves.
Giguere was in goal for the Ducks' 5-2 win at Phoenix on Nov. 3 and has won four in a row against the Coyotes.